Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of our most commonly asked questions. Have a question that is not in our list? Scroll to the bottom and submit your own!
About Wonder Voyage
Wonder Voyage is a non-profit organization that creates personalized pilgrimages and service trips. We strive to create voyages that are extraordinary in scope, exceptional in detail, and generous in service, while remaining focused and passionate in our reflection of Christ. We combine exotic locations, distinctive housing, indigenous guides, and regional cuisine to create a unique experience not found with traditional tour companies.
At Wonder Voyage, we are committed to giving back to the places we visit. Many of the voyage provide the opportunity to serve a local community. Whether boosting local economies, building a school, becoming part of a cultural exchange program or serving those in need, Wonder Voyage seeks to give something of value back. Being a non-profit also allows us to create more personalized trips at a lower cost.
The name Wonder Voyage strikes several images in the minds of those who hear it: a treasure hunt, a pilgrim on a search for God, a quest for wonder, or even a spiritual experience. But the origin of our name, Wonder Voyage, can be traced back to ancient pre-Christian Ireland.
For more on the name Wonder Voyage, view our blog post below:
Let’s trek through the maiden year of Wonder Voyage through the lenses of three elements that set Wonder Voyage apart from every other organization in the world: relationships, community, and the God-encounters that we call moments of wonder.
Learn more about how Wonder Voyage started by viewing the following blog post:
One of the values that sets Wonder Voyage apart from other organizations is our ability to personalize the journey. We assess your teams’ personal desires and objectives, and fashion an itinerary that becomes an exceptional and personal experience for the team; however, you must understand that the process is a pre-trip process.
Once on the voyage, we focus on flexibility according to the fluctuations of a team, the unforeseeable circumstances we may encounter, and the direction the Spirit of God may lead us. For the most part, we have set the journey according to the schedule and cannot change on a whim. Finances and preset promises (such as specific service projects) will be honored as much as possible.
The Voyage Coordinator is your primary point of contact for the itinerary creation. They have extensive knowledge in their designated regions and will work with the Team Leader to create the perfect itinerary for the journey.
Every Wonder Voyage is made up of five essential elements.
Engagement: Wonder Voyage allows the participant to engage in a living journey where they become part of an unfolding story filled with adventure and mystery.
Encounter: Wonder Voyage provides opportunities to encounter the Creator in extraordinary ways and unlikely places.
Beyond Traditional: Wonder Voyage takes you beyond the traditional mission trip, educational adventure or pilgrimage
by making space for moments of wonder that will stay with you for a lifetime
Immersive: Wonder Voyage immerses our participants in a culture through storytelling, engaging history, local cuisine, stirring exploration, and exceptional guides.
Legacy: Wonder Voyage desires to leave a legacy of sacrificial love and service in the places we visit and in the lives of the pilgrims who travel with us.
We want you to commit your team to exploration as you enter this voyage. We desire to learn as much as possible about the culture we are visiting. This means a willingness to try new things and take full advantage of the brief time we are visiting a people foreign to us. Flexibility and adaptability are necessities as we commit to not be judgmental.
The bond that undergirds Wonder Voyage is our passion for a living an active life with Christ. We see God as the Author of Life, and we are a part of that ever-unfolding tale. Serving you on our voyages allows us to worship Christ in an exceptional way. Whatever your faith background we want to both celebrate your heritage and explore others.
Wonder Voyage offers pilgrimages, short term missions, adult journey, J2A, adventure and educational trips. Each type of trip comes with a specific itinerary, but they all invite participants to step away from day-to-day life. They offer the opportunity to travel to an exciting destination to encounter intriguing cultures and historic sites while experiencing the Holy through nature, worship, and in community.
Pilgrimage is an ancient tradition that has amazing modern benefits. A pilgrim is one who recognizes that seeking the Creator’s presence is the most adventurous voyage upon which one may embark. Often times, a pilgrim’s journey draws him or her to serve and learn from a people foreign to his or her way of life. A Wonder Voyage pilgrimage is a journey where the aim is the wondrous face of God. The voyage can be anywhere the mind can imagine, and the mission one of sacred sacrifice towards others. It is important to note that pilgrimage is more about the attitude and philosophy fostered, than the actual trip, mission or agenda.
For more on pilgrimage, view the following blog post:
Wonder Voyage partners with several colleges, public and private schools to create personalized voyages that fulfill the specific missions of those schools. In many cases, we tailor trips based on specific curriculum or class goals. School trips may or may not have a spiritual or service component dependent on the institution.
For more on school trips, view the following blog post:
On a Wonder Voyage mission/service trip, your team will have the opportunity to serve with individuals and organizations that are making a difference, on a grassroots level, every day, year after year. We delight in having the chance to “serve the servants.” We often ask organizations to: “Give us the jobs that nobody else will do.”
Over the years, this attitude has allowed teams to bless the servants of God in the most remarkable ways. The ministries, non-profit and charity organizations that we partner with worldwide are able to get things accomplished which may have otherwise seemed impossible. More importantly, though, our willingness to do the most menial of tasks often frees up their staff workers to do the things that God has called them to do to make a difference.
At Wonder Voyage, we believe that we are endowed by our Creator to seek new landscapes, to expand our understanding of the world and ourselves to connect with God. We believe there is no better way to do this than to embark on a sacred journey of exploration, adventure and wonder.
A Wonder Voyage Adult Journey is an invitation to step away from your day to day life as you travel to an exciting destination where you will encounter intriguing cultures and historic sites, while experiencing the Holy through nature, in worship and in community. An Adult Journey is your passport to slow down, and to reflect as you sit with God and ponder what is most important in your life. You will return home renewed and restored.
Once in a while, a group joins us whose focus is enjoying a vacation. The agenda is entertainment instead of spiritual enrichment. Play without pondering. Wonder Voyage is dedicated to leading unique, heart-provoking voyages of exploration in the age-old tradition of pilgrimage. We will help you communicate to your group what a heart for pilgrimage is so that you know what you’re in for and your expectations are met. If you want an all-inclusive vacation you need to book a resort. If you want a pilgrimage, come with Wonder Voyage.
For more about vacations or pilgrimages, view the following blog post:
Wonder Voyage does trips on all seven continents and to over forty countries. Every year, we pioneer a handful of voyages to new locations. If you are interested in a location or a country we do not currently have on the website please inquire. Chances are we are ready to pioneer a location for you.
The cost of each voyage includes:
- Unique and safe lodging.
- All meals, except one free day meal*
- Flexible, personalized itineraries
- An experienced Voyage Guide for the voyage
- Consultation months in advance with a Voyage Coordinator to help prepare for the trip
- Daily opportunities to encounter the holy
- Cultural immersion experiences on location
- At least one high-end adventure or exploration activity
- Ground transportation outside of the U.S. and Canada
*Lunch is not provided on adult journeys
The cost of each voyage does not include:
- Ground transportation within most of the U.S. and Canada
- Lunches on the first and last day of your itinerary and 'free day' meal
- lunches on Adult Journeys
- Special room arrangements are at an extra cost
- Additional expenses due to client requested deviations from the group's itinerary
- Fees for optional activities selected by the group leader
Each trip will consist of the team members of your choosing, your leaders, and a Wonder Voyage Guide(s). If you have asked to merge your trip with another group, they will join the trip. Most of our voyages are with students, teachers, churches, and schools. We also lead several voyages a year that are adult only.
Passports, and sometimes visas, are necessary for ALL travel outside of the country, and they are created for the protection of the individual. Passports can be applied for at many state and federal courts, probate courts, and some post offices. You need to apply at least 3 months prior to leaving the country. If you already have a passport, it is important that you make sure you do not have to renew your passport. First-time applicants must appear in person. Renewals can be done by mail. You must complete a DSP-11 Passport Application and be present when you sign it.
If there are visas involved in the process of traveling, your Voyage Coordinator will make you aware of all requirements and steps necessary for obtaining visas. The website www.travel.state.gov gives you all you need to know about applying for or renewing a passport. You can download all necessary forms, and even a step-by-step checklist. The website also has listings of all local passport offices.
For more information about passports, view the following blog post:
We require that each person on an overseas trip purchase travel insurance before departure. We want evacuation and medical insurance to be available in case of an extreme situation. Wonder Voyage has recommendations for affordable and reliable travel insurance.
For more information on travel insurance, view the following blog post:
Wonder Voyage Guides are here to serve and do everything in their power to provide unforgettable experiences while traveling. Each Guide assesses your desires and directives for your trip in order to create an exceptional, all-inclusive journey. Imagine, as the leader, being able to enjoy the journey as a participant rather than being burdened with daily details. Guides have dedicated themselves to understanding each destination through extensive research. This gives you the benefit of being an invited guest rather than an intrusive tourist.
We suggest you pack appropriately for the location and climate in which you are traveling. Your Guide will provide a thorough, location-specific packing list to you before departure.
If a Wonder Voyage trip is prohibited because a country experiences a national crisis:
- We will attempt to reschedule your trip to a new location during or as close to the same dates as the original contracted trip. If you accept the new location and/or adjusted dates, we will make every effort to avoid loss of payments made to reapply those to the new trip. We can make no guarantee on the loss or amount reapplied. There may be an increase or change in cost with any changes.
- If you decline the new location and/or available dates but would like to postpone to the following year; we will apply payments made less any vendor loss we may have incurred, to the newly contracted trip. We can make no guarantee on the loss or amount reapplied. There may be an increase or change in cost with any changes.
- If you decide to cancel your contracted trip and decline postponement to the following year, we will impose our no-refund policy outlined in your contract to cover the vendor loss we will incur due to the cancellation.
Here’s our favorite emergency story:
The addition of children on a Wonder Voyage can be wonderful or tough for the parents bringing their young ones. If it is family trip, then children will be factored into the journey. But if it primarily a youth voyage, children can greatly affect the daily agenda. If your group is interested in a voyage that will involve a child or children, please contact the Wonder Voyage office for direction. Each child 11-years-old or younger must have his or her own guardian.
For a positive thought on bringing children, view the following blog post:
The more your team takes time to research where you are considering traveling, the deeper the potential for an engaging experience when you arrive. An easy way to make the research more fun is to assign each team member a different list of questions and bring them all together to share their new knowledge.
Check out our post on how to choose a location for your pilgrimage:
Choosing chaperones is one of the most daunting decisions for anyone traveling with teens. At Wonder Voyage, we require at least one adult for every seven youth coming on a trip. The adult leaders you choose will be a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to the fruitfulness, safety, fun, and ease of the trip. Pick the wrong adult leaders and you might have a nightmare. The article below outlines five qualities to look for when choosing a chaperone.
Learn more about how to choose chaperones for your voyage:
Booking your team's tickets is one of the most important aspects of your journey. Wonder Voyage is not a travel agent so we are not involved in this aspect of the journey. Booking tickets for a group journey can feel daunting. It's not as hard as it looks. You may want to find a trusted individual to help work directly with the group department of an airline. We have a travel agent that we trust if you want to go that route. Regardless, it is important that you purchase your tickets six to nine months before your departure. Always confirm your travel dates and times with the Wonder Voyage office before you purchase you tickets.
When booking flights for your team, there are a few little tricks of the trade that can make your job much easier.
All groups Wonder Voyage leads are required to provide their own ground transportation within the continental United States unless the group is utilizing public transportation like NYC or Chicago. There are a handful of things you should keep in mind when planning a voyage in which you are in the driver’s seat. Here our are thoughts on renting vehicles.
Contact an Embassy: www.embassy.org/
U.S. State Department Travel Information: travel.state.gov
Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov
Passport Requirements and Applications: Passports and Visa Information
Expedited U.S. Passports, Visas and Renewals: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/
U.S. VISA Requirements for International Visitors: travel.state.gov (country-specific information)
International VISA Requirements: travel.state.gov(search country-specific profile for VISA requirements)
Each trip will vary in level of physical demand. The Voyage Coordinator will inform of what your specific trip will require. There is usually an alternate activity offered to those who may be uncomfortable with a physical challenge. If you require special assistance, you may speak with your Voyage Coordinator before the trip and they will do their best to provide modifications.
The question often comes up about how we handle vegetarian, vegan, food allergies or other specific dietary needs. We will do our best to try to offer choices for people with dietary issues, but we cannot make any advanced arrangements. The individual will be responsible for choosing appropriate items at the restaurant or meal location.
If a participant has a SERIOUS food allergy, please LET US KNOW. While we cannot make any assurances about the food on our journeys, we would like to discuss the issue with you. If someone is simply picky, we cannot do anything to cater to his or her desires.
We nickname it Montezuma’s Revenge, green apple quick step, back door trots or the belly bug, but there is nothing cute about diarrhea… especially while traveling. Though it primarily affects people visiting developing nations, diarrhea can strike anywhere. Here are some tips to preventing traveler’s diarrhea.
At Wonder Voyage, we never lose sight of the fact that we must protect other peoples’ children. To this end, we have a set of guidelines that we follow in order to make sure that every Wonder Voyage participant can tell the story of their journey with a happy ending. Our policy on alcohol consumption and drug use is based on our desire to provide each student with the best possible experience.
Our policy is very simple: if a participant is not legal drinking age in the U.S., then that participant is not legal to drink or use drugs anywhere we take them. The legal age in the location is not the standard. Additionally, it is imperative that your adult leaders know that the no-tolerance policy applies to them as well. Any leader who purchases alcohol for an underage team member will be asked to depart at his or her own expense.
Wonder Voyage reserves the right to send any student caught buying or consuming alcohol, drugs or any intoxicating substance home at the guardian’s expense.
On The Voyage
At Wonder Voyage, we see food as part of the cultural experience. Most of the meals on your trip will reflect the culture of the location. Morning meals can range from continental to a full, hot breakfast. Lunch can range from a brown bag, packed meal to various local fare. (For Adult Journeys you may have a restaurant or a variety of eateries to choose from depending on the daily itinerary.) Dinners will be presented through our Stone Soup challenge, in which team members cook, or will be provided by a local venue. (For Adult Journeys, dinners will be provided through a local venue.) The final dinner of every Wonder Voyage trip is a culturally immersive Celebration Meal.
Stone Soup meals are part of our voyages. Teams are divided into smaller groups and are given the chance to serve each other by planning and preparing an evening meal. Participants have the opportunity to utilize and hone communication and leadership skills. The practice of Stone Soup will vary dependent on trip and location.
We try to reflect the local culture in the accommodations we provide. Housing is dependent on the type of Wonder Voyage (Adult Journey, school trip, service trip) can range from youth hostels to hotels to monasteries. We seek out unique and safe locations with comfortable bedding, a common room for team gatherings, and clean bathroom facilities. Laundry facilities are not available and internet accessibility is not guaranteed.
The daily schedule will vary greatly depending on the type of voyage, the location, and the weather. Wonder Voyages include meals, excursions, free exploration, hiking, cultural events (or a service project if requested), and time for group reflection. You will be provided with an itinerary for your specific trip before you embark, detailing what you will do each day.
Whether it’s a rash from ill-fitting clothes, blisters from bad shoes, or misery from forgetting a rain poncho, many lessons on the hiking trail are learned the hard way. Several of our Directors brainstormed their must-haves for any hiking pilgrimage. Before you zip up your backpack, double-check their list.
For a hiking list:
Culture shock is a condition of disorientation effecting someone who is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set attitudes. Try to put aside any preconceived ideas you may have about a culture you are visiting. Take time to read a guidebook or do research about the places you will be visiting.
For more on prescriptions for culture shock:
Wonder Voyage is not responsible for laundry for the teams. If adequate facilities are available, the team is welcome to wash on their own time and dime. Be sure to check with your Voyage Guide to see if laundry facilities are available.
At the end of every voyage we engage in a Celebration Dinner, usually highlighting the local culture of the locations we are visiting.
One of the most nerve-racking aspects of leading a group trip is the necessity of driving a van or large vehicle. All groups Wonder Voyage leads within the Continental United States are required to provide their own ground transportation except in cities with excellent public transportation. There are a handful of things you should keep in mind when planning a voyage in which you, or your leaders, are in the driver’s seat.
Since 1999, Wonder Voyage has sent over 10,000 pilgrims to more than 100 destinations across the globe. In this time, we have invested millions of dollars in service hours and developed strong bonds with many organizations. A few years ago, we decided to strategically focus on intensifying our connection with a few target locations to leave an impact that will outlast us. We call this unique venture: Wonder Voyage Legacy.
Qualifying teams traveling with Wonder Voyage can apply for Legacy funds. If selected, the service project will be promoted to our supporters. Supporters can choose which projects to invest in, and that money will combine with funds raised by the pilgrims themselves. Together, supporters and pilgrims can significantly increase the impact on the communities served. Best of all there is no overhead associated with Legacy, so 100% of the funds go straight to the projects you select! We will even keep you updated on how every dollar is spent.
Legacy is a strategic focus on intensifying our connection with a few target communities so we might leave an impact that will outlast us.
Our Legacy partners are people and organizations that we have built a relationship with over a period of years. We know these organizations are making a long term and sustainable impact in the communities they serve.
The bond that undergirds Wonder Voyage is our passion for a living an active life with Christ. We see God as the Author of Life, and we are a part of that ever-unfolding tale. Serving you on our voyages allows us to worship Christ in an exceptional way. We want to give you an opportunity to get away, be still and know God.
On every trip, we find opportunities for these defining moments that we call Encounter Moments. These can be planned or spontaneous, individual or corporate; no matter the setting, we believe that God is the author of these moments, and that they can provide real opportunities and challenges for participants to grow spiritually and emotionally. We encourage teams to share these moments with each other in our evening gatherings and also with friends and family, once home.
For more on encounter moments:
A journal is literally a record of the events of the day. Much of the biblical and historical research that is done today utilizes journal accounts kept by someone. Over the years we have found that participants who keep a journal during their trips have a more complete experience. Journaling enables one to ponder more deeply the activities and experiences of the day. In essence, a journal can be like a “memory road map,” a reminder of how far one has traveled.
For more on journaling:
Moments of wonder are those times, often unplanned, where our pilgrims encounter the holy in a way that is undeniable.